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Page last updated at 18:45 GMT, Wednesday, 27 May 2009 19:45 UK

UN supports Sri Lanka aid effort

Sri Lankan's in a camp for displaced people
Aid agencies have complained that access to the camp is being blocked

The United Nations Human Rights Council has offered support to Sri Lanka's humanitarian efforts as it recovers from its war with Tamil Tiger rebels.

However, the emergency session resolution did not mention granting UN aid agencies full access to the 300,000 displaced people in army-run camps.

Human rights groups said it ignored claims of abuse by the army and rebels.

Sri Lanka and its allies had argued it was wrong to criticise a member state just days after it ended a 25-year war.

The final resolution, passed by 29 votes to 12 with six abstentions, welcomes what it calls Sri Lanka's continued commitment to the protection of human rights.

It also urges the international community to provide financial assistance towards Sri Lanka's reconstruction.

Human rights groups reacted with dismay.

'Domestic' matter

They see this as yet another sign that the council - supposed to be the world's top human rights watchdog - is now so politicised that it is virtually meaningless, reports the BBC's Imogen Foulkes in Geneva.

The resolution condemned the rebel group for using civilians as human shields, but said the war was a "domestic" matter.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had told the session that "an independent and credible international investigation" should be sent to Sri Lanka.

The commissioner said it should examine allegations that the Tigers prevented civilians from leaving the conflict zone, and that government forces used heavy artillery there, and killed rebels trying to surrender.

European countries, Canada, Chile and Mexico had supported such an investigation, as well as access to the camps.

Aid access

However, the council recommended that Sri Lanka provide aid groups with "access as may be appropriate" to refugee camps.

The military has so far refused to release refugees from the camps, saying they must be screened to weed out any Tamil rebels who may be hiding among them.

Meanwhile, the army said it had killed 11 suspected Tamil Tigers near the south-eastern town of Ampara.

The clash happened as troops searched for any remaining rebels, the Associated Press news agency reported.



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